|Discovery and Disillusion
Author: kydasam PM
SlashVHC. Van Helsing discovers the Church's views on his freedom and how Carl feels about him. 1st Fanfic, feedback would be greatly appreciated. COMPLETEDRated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Romance - Chapters: 9 - Words: 39,682 - Reviews: 56 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 08-25-04 - Published: 07-30-04 - Status: Complete - id: 1989087
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Rating: PG13Discovery and Disillusion
Series/Sequel: Part one
Summary: Van Helsing discovers the Church's views on his freedom and what Carl 'wonders' about
Warning: Aspersions against the Church of Van Helsing's time (which I feel are merited), the start of slash (in a loving relationship)
Notes: My second fanfiction, May I be worthy! If you like this,
I'll write more. If you don't, I'll probably sulk-not a pretty picture.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything (sniff), but I do like to play
Feedback: Love the idea, hate flames-be kind
Gabriel sighed, his dark brows contracting in a frown as he began to realize something was..different. He didn't feel any sense of danger...only wrongness. He'd gone to sleep early, so exhausted he'd barely had the strength to remove his clothes and then stumble onto the hard bed the
Vatican saw fit to provide him with for the times he was "home". He'd been too tired to see Carl, tho he'd made a mental note to do so when he awoke. It was true, it had been several weeks since
they'd last spoken, but he simply couldn't wait any longer to give in to his weariness.
His inner clock informed him he had been asleep for several hours and that it must now be very early in the morning. And something was....wrong....
Forcing his eyes open, he concentrated on the darkness before him. It was quiet...no. There was a sound...a soft suseration of noise at his side, like the sound of someone breathing.
Turning his head on his hard pillow, he blinked at the soft mass of his own hair obscuring his vision. His hand twitched involuntarily to push it out of his face only to find that he couldn't move his hand.
Immediately, he was wide awake, both wrists yanking at the thick ropes that tied them to the posts at the corners of his bed. He could feel the rough hemp of the rope was muffled by some sort of cloth-where it had slipped, the rope bit into his flesh chafing it bloody.
"Stop it-you can't get loose and you'll hurt yourself if you keep struggling like that. I tried to pad your wrists, but I couldn't be as careful as I wanted to because I didn't want to wake you."
"Carl?!" Van Helsing growled, his eyes narrowing at the source of the soft distressed voice. He ceased his struggles, but his long-fingered hands closed into angry fists and his body tensed. "Why
am I trussed up like this? Get these damned ropes off me!"
"Gabriel...I..." the friar choked to a stop as the sound of a match being struck resounded through the still chamber, its light illuminating the faces of both Carl and Cardinal Jinette.
"Do not blame him, my son," Jinette spoke disapprovingly "You've only yourself to blame for this."
"What?!" Van Helsing snapped disbelieving. "How could I deserve this? What is it that you think I've done that you do this to me?"
"Hmph, you are making much noise over a small matter. You have not been hurt, nor tortured. You are simply...restrained. For a time...until I see it is proper to release you."
"Restrained? I'm tied to the damned bed! What's proper about that? What the hell is...."
"Be silent!" Jinette's angry shout overrode the vampire hunter's words, making the friar at his side whimper and cower slightly as he looked at his friend's angry snapping eyes in the flickering candlelight. "You dared to enter the Vatican and lie to me and think that I won't find out? What
kind of fool do you take me for, Van Helsing? You could not truly believe I would never find out you'd been bitten by a werewolf while in Transylvania?!"
Van Helsing felt the color ebb from his face, his eyes flew accusing to Carl though he wasn't aware they had done so until he realized the smaller man was almost weeping his apologies. Setting his
jaw, the hunter's gaze returned to the Cardinal.
"So now what? You wait to see if I turn into a beast in the moonlight?"
The ecclesiastic shrugged as he lifted the candle, moving with it about the room to light the wall sconces. As the light improved, Van Helsing's gaze flickered about the chamber and found, to his relief, no sign of any of the church's watch dogs from the Inquisition nor any of the lesser known "handlers"-those men of the church whose job it was to handle dangerous demons and beasts and either tame them or obtain as much useful data from them as possible before they expired.
He stirred from his thoughts as he became aware of cold fingers touching his, sliding over his wrist, adjusting the soft cloth so that the raw rope did not bite into his flesh. Carl, his ministering angel.
The friar flinched back as the hunter jerked his wrist out of his hands. He could not truly escape Carl's ministrations because the bindings would not allow him any play, but the small movement was enough and Carl did not press him, instead moving back to stand with hunched shoulders in the shadows.
Jinette had seated himself at the small table opposite the bed, his eyes thoughtful on Van Helsing's face and body. The hunter suppressed the urge to growl as he realized the bed linens covering him were down, low about his hips, and Jinette was eyeing his bare body with the interest of cold calculating science.
"How long," he ground out, drawing some satisfaction as the Cardinal came out of his contemplations with a start.
"How long will you keep me this way?" Van Helsing growled, yanking at the bindings about his wrists in illustration.
The prelate seemed to consider, then shrugged. "I don't really like to say. It's not something that I can easily predict since there is so little known about the werewolf's venom. But...I supposed we'd be in a better position to judge once a full moon has come and gone. Afterward, of course, you will return to your normal work, making yourself available for more tests upon your return. Even if you manifest no outward signs of lycanthropy, much can still be learned from you."
"Hmm," Van Helsing nodded, his lips twisted in a sardonic smirk. "I see....a sort of hybrid-part hunter for the church and part science project. A very pretty future you have planned for me. And if I say no?"
"Don't be naive," Jinette barked, the condescension in his tone making the other man flush with anger. "You are not a free agent, whatever your ego may tell you otherwise. You are a ward of the church, inextricably tied to it. You belong to it, as do the rest of us, and you will serve it in
whatever capacity we deem fit. Your fate..your mind..your body, all belong to the church. So stop your childish prattling on about self-determination. I have no time for your petulance any longer."
Abruptly, the Cardinal stood, drawing his crimson robes about him with a swirling swish and stalked to the door of the tiny cell. He spared a glance at the friar still huddled in the shadows. "Carl, you will see to his needs and keep me apprised of any changes. Any changes, however small, you understand?"
"Y-y-yes, your grace," the other man stammered, his eyes nervously darting to the bound man across the room.
"Carl," Jinette's pale hand extended from his robes to firmly take the friar's chin and dragged his face up to meet his own eyes. "I need not remind you of this I'm sure, but...you will not remove nor loosen those bonds. And no matter what he says, you will remember that you are just as bound to this church's wishes as Van Helsing is. Is that understood?"
The friar's eyebrows contracted in a frown, but he nodded and Jinette, satisfied, left the room, closing the heavy wooden door behind him.
The small man sighed as he steeled himself before turning his gaze reluctantly to meet the hunter's hazel eyes.
Van Helsing made no attempt to speak nor did he struggle against the ropes that bound him. He lay quietly, watching the friar, his expression stoney and reserved.
Carl found himself shrugging as he approached the bed, his white nervous hands twisting in the course stuff of his robes.
"I..I didn't know what he was planning, Gabriel, I swear it. I never told him....per se.... I was researching lycanthropy and it's effect on vampirism. I made some inquiries...I was discreet....I thought I was, anyway. Somehow, he put it together. He called me to his office....."
"And you confessed everything to him?" Van Helsing ground out through gritted teeth.
"No! Of course not...." Carl approached the bed, pleading, his hands leaving his robes to nervously pat the linens of the bed, briefly touching the other man's skin, then flying back down to the sheets again. "I didn't have to. He'd worked it out for himself. Even then, I thought he'd be grateful-that he'd realize you'd never sought it-but once you were stricken you used it to rid the world of Dracula and that the antidote had then rid you of the curse. But he wouldn't believe.... I...don't think he wanted to believe it, Gabriel. He was so angry that he would not listen to anything I
said after that."
"Hmmm", Van Helsing eyed the friar with a gaze that quite plainly bespoke resigned understanding, before allowing his eyes to drop and track about the room. He noted that the heavy shutters obscuring the windows of the chamber had been removed so that both the sun as well as the moonlight could enter freely to spill wantonly over the bed and the man lying in it.
"The shutters..his idea?"
Carl miserably nodded. "Yes, he had them removed before you returned. You were so exhausted, I suppose you never even noticed they were gone."
Sighing, Van Helsing shifted on the thin mattress. "Well, this is at least better than one of the cells in the dungeons or accommodations with the Inquisitors. I should be grateful for that, at least, though I admit to being surprised. If I am to believe Jinette, I don't even rank that much despite the services I've rendered."
"The Cardinal has definite ideas about the Church and the relative worth of everyone in it," Carl admitted with an apologetic grimace, before continuing more thoughtfully, "I suppose you 'rank' this treatment because of the services you've provided. It's his way...I suppose...of admitting you
deserve better....in a way....
Van Helsing's snort of incredulous mirth made the friar's thin mouth twist into a half smile and he edged a little closer to the bed, his hands returning to touch the other man, patting his side in a nervously comforting gesture.
"Gabriel? I truly am sorry. If there was anything I could have done...any way I could have stopped him or even warned you before you stepped foot into the Vatican, I would have, I swear it."
Van Helsing made no immediate reply, instead turning his head up to examine the ropes securing him in the light of the stuttering firelight. Plain hemp rope, nothing grand about it. At least it wasn't metal shackles. While he couldn't immediately release himself from it, over time with
determination, he believed it was possible. And, he realized, he had more than enough determination. He'd hunted the monsters and endured the brand of 'murderer' for the church because he had believed it was the right thing to do. But he had no intention of meekly accepting his role as Jinette's science project. If they wanted to study lycanthropy, let them round up some genuine werewolves and work to rid the poor bastards of their curse. There was nothing to be gained in violating his body with their damned experiments.
Carl, tho he remained silent, watched his friend's face and all the myriad emotions flying through the hazel eyes. He knew what Van Helsing was thinking and it scared him. Jinette thought he could simply bid the hunter to obey and Gabriel would meekly bow down. Carl knew it would never happen as Jinette envisioned. But the church had frightening power. It had marked the hunter as one of its own and would not easily yield him up. Gabriel might have it in his head to flout that power, but ultimately it would bring him down. There had to be some way to satisfy both, so that
both could achieve their ends without a break. That, or the two-church and hunter-would tear each other apart.
Hazel eyes turned to the small friar, a flare of impatience quickly disappeared behind a mask of detachment. It didn't fool Carl, but he let it pass for the moment.
"I wish you would listen to Jinette. I know that the way he is going about this is wrong, and I believe he can be made to see reason once he's over his snit at your disobedience..."
"Disobedience?" the question was softly spoken, but the thunder of anger in it was deafening, making the friar back away from the bed with his hands raised placatingly.
"Bad choice of words! I meant....um...he is angry that we didn't tell him everything. And whether he's right in that or not is a matter for other discussions. But now, what he wants to accomplish..Gabriel, he's looking for a better understanding of this awful curse, and possibly the cure rests in you. You are the only known survivor, not only of the curse but also of the cure. Perhaps something in you could provide the answer to curing others. If that were so, in whatever misguided way Jinette is trying to achieve it, isn't it still a worthy cause?"
"Carl," Van Helsing sighed, and allowed his body to relax into the mattress. For a moment he closed his eyes, gathering his thoughts and pushing down his emotions. Carl was a truly good person, one of the few people he'd ever remembered meeting who actually seemed worthy of being called a man of God. But sometimes in his zeal to accomplish overall good he missed the difficult points along the way.
"Carl," he began again, "I have no quarrel with Jinette's desire for a cure. I'd have even agreed, probably, to all the damned tests he has in mind. But there is no excuse to treat anyone like property without will or rights of their own, regardless the greater good to be achieved. When you forfeit the rights of one person for the greater good, who's to say the next time that the rights of a hundred aren't worth the good of thousands? Or worse. No matter what Jinette says, neither you nor I, nor any of the others here, are the property of the church. We serve by desire or else it's just slavery."
The friar blinked, his mouth opening, closing, opening again, before a small squeak of dismay emerged. Abruptly, he leaned back against the wall and slowly slid down to sit with a thump on the dirty wooden floor.
"Carl?" Van Helsing strained against the ropes to see over the edge of the bed, anxiety roughening his voice. The wooden frame was sturdy and the ropes thick and tightly tied, so that all his straining accomplished was to make his hands go numb and to further rumple the bed clothes. But still he pushed, trying to see his friend. "Carl, are you alright? Dammit...you're not dead are you?"
A snort from the floor answered the hunter making him sag with relief. "If I were dead, you wouldn't really expect me to answer you, would you?"
Sighing, the hunter relaxed against the pillows with a grimace. "Actually, I wouldn't put it past you to haunt me." He fell silent and the man on the floor made no effort to speak either.
Through the opened window, Van Helsing could see the stars disappear in prelude to dawn. He didn't want to push the friar, but with the early morning hours it was likely that Jinette's plans for his 'testing' would begin to manifest. He wanted very much to be free when that time came.
"So," Van Helsing murmured, keeping his voice as calm as possible, "Judging by your abrupt and odd disappearance, either you've spotted a coin for the poor box or else something I said made sense. I'm hoping it's the latter."
The other man's silence continued, lasting for so long that the hunter began to wonder if he'd fallen asleep on the floor. Finally, unable to wait any longer, "Carl? Are you still there? Or did you really find a coin?"
"I'm here." The reluctance in the friar's voice was painful to hear. Van Helsing believed Carl was his friend and though he didn't allow himself to rely on it, he still could not quite suppress the belief that Carl must side with him.
"And?" Van Helsing pressed.
"And you are damnably correct. And I damn double damned hate it."
A sound from the floor shortly produced the rumpled and haggard looking friar who unsteadily rose to stand by the hunter's bed looking down at him. He eyed the captive man with a speculative air that made Van Helsing's brows draw down in a suspicious frown, his eyes narrowing as he tried to read the intent in the blue eyes.
"Carl? Why are you looking at me that way?"
"Oh," the friar spoke faintly, with a pragmatic, resigned note in his voice. "I'm just thinking I'm about to go against a direct order from the Cardinal, which will in all likelihood result in my abrupt and painful expulsion from the church and probably from this building. While I can and will
continue to serve God whether in a secular fashion or no, I can't help but think of all the things I've never done because they would have been considered blasphemy or sacrilege by the Church. I'll be tossed ash-can over keester for this without even trying one of them once."
Gabriel watched his friend's face, making no effort to interrupt. He had no idea what missed opportunities his friend was talking about. It had always seemed to him that there was very little in life that Carl had denied himself, always claiming friars were allowed a great deal more latitude than seemed likely. He'd heard the admission of Carl's intention to release him and that was really all he needed to understand immediately. He had faith that Carl would make the rest clear in his own
Of course, the look in the friar's eye was disconcerting.
"Carl? What are you thinking?"
The friar smiled, almost shyly, as he shrugged, his pale hands coming up to rest on the bed and play with the rumpled linens.
"Oh, well...I suppose, since I'm going to commit what amounts to ecclesiastical suicide, I might as well indulge myself just this once. Actually, Gabriel, I was wondering...."
The vampire hunter's gaze never left the blue eyes, eyebrows raised in interrogatory arcs, he waited for as long as he could before prompting, "Carl, time's passing. Can you let me up from here while you're pondering this weighty issue?"
The friar flushed, chewed his lip, then shook his head. "Ah...not right away...no."
"Not right....Carl, what the hell? I thought you agreed...."
"Oh I do! I'll release you, of course, Gabriel. There's just...something I want to do first....and it seems like a very good idea to do it while you're ... er....safe."
"'Safe'", the vampire hunter growled, eyes narrowing. "Carl...."
The friar smiled, moved to hold one finger to Van Helsing's lips, silencing him. Then, taking a deep breath, Carl leaned forward and replaced his finger with his lips, pressing them firmly to Van Helsing's.
The vampire hunter's eyes flew wide open as he felt the friar's lips move on his own, and the warm wetness of Carl's tongue lick him so that he gasped. His opened lips seemed to be all the invitation
Carl needed and the friar's tongue immediately dipped in and made itself at home, nestling about Van Helsing's. His hands moved to touch and fondle the hunter's long dark hair and the column of his throat, stroking and holding it.
Making an incoherent noise due to his mouth being effectively blocked, Van Helsing's body writhed on the bed as he growled against Carl's lips. Abruptly, Van Helsing spat out Carl's tongue, turning his head to the side as he freed his mouth.
The friar jumped back with the alacrity of a scalded cat, his hands thrown out placatingly before him. "Oh, you didn't like it? Did I do it wrong? I've never had complaints before, but of course maybe it's different with a man."
"Different?!" Van Helsing wheezed then coughed, his voice returning as a growl. "I'll say it's bloody different! You waited until I'm tied to a damned bed to stick your tongue into my mouth?!"
Carl flushed beet red as he fidgeted, his hands clenching and unclenching in the rumpled sheets. If possible, his rounded shoulders rounded even more until they threatened to swallow his head.
"Well....it seemed as good a time as any. And I've wondered so long...you see...what it would be like...what you would, er, taste...like....."
"Taste...." Van Helsing was horrified to feel a blush start at his hairline and rush downward like a tidal wave. Growling, he clenched his hands into fists and yanked at the restraints about his wrists. "This isn't some sleazy brothel, Carl, where you can experience your bondage fantasies."
Rather than withering under Van Helsing's ire, the friar seemed to rally. Fire replaced shyness in his eyes and his voice firmed up to one of unmistakable snarkiness.
"Bondage fantasies?! Is that what you think I was doing? I've waited the entire time I've know you...dreamed about this...wondered. And this is it? Hah! Not exactly worth the wait! I'm not some groping, gangling street urchin spreading it for a copper, Gabriel! Alright, you didn't like it,
but all you had to say was 'no'. Did you think I'd force myself on you? Was a simple kiss so damned awful that you have to be a complete...."
"CARL!" Van Helsing's bellow caused the dust to settle from the aging timbers above while outside the window the sound of startled birds rang out raucously.
"You interrupted me," the friar's petulant voice was barely a murmur as he eyed the man before him hesitantly.
Van Helsing's voice easily overrode Carl's. It was low, grating, and shook with barely managed restraint.
"Ropes. Cut them. Self pity. Stop it. You want to kiss me, wait until I'm not tied down. You want 'safe', stick with women. Start cutting, Carl. Now."
The friar's eyes grew huge as he backed away from the bed. Without taking his eyes off the other man, he sidled over to the rickety table where Van Helsing's coat haphazardly lay. Reaching under
it, he easily located the large silver sword Van Helsing always carried.
Approaching the bed with trepidation, the friar awkwardly unsheathed the blade and carefully began to saw weakly at the ropes binding Van Helsing's left wrist, which happened to be nearest to him. The Vampire hunter said nothing, his snapping eyes pinned Carl's, their hard gaze never releasing
Carl felt rather than watched the strands of rope part, unraveling half it's thickness, but he wasn't prepared for the man reclining before him to suddenly surge upright, his arm knotting in a corded mass of muscle as he snapped the remaining strands still binding him.
With a squawk, Carl fell backwards only to be abruptly held motionless by Van Helsing's hand buried in the front of his robes, hauling him back upright and over to the bed until he was nose to nose with the hunter.
Blue eyes met hazel with only an inch separating them. When Van Helsing spoke, his breath bathed Carl's lips in an intimate warmth that made goose bumps leap up on the friar's skin.
"Don't move from there. Give me the blade."
Bringing the blade around before him, the smaller man winced as Van Helsing released him and seized the sword in one motion. The next instant the blade swung up in a singing shimmer of light that passed through the ropes and the post of the bed in one sweep.
Immediately, the hunter dropped the blade on the bed and swung his legs out, shoving the rumpled sheets aside to stand naked before the friar.
He eyed the smaller man with what appeared to Carl to be a thoughtful air before speaking. "'Safe', Carl? Tell me what was 'safe' about what you just did?"
"Oh...ah...well...er, I suppose...nothing?" the friar squeaked, his hands rising to clutch at each other at chest height. "You know...er, Gabriel...I can see your point, truly, and maybe I did take some small advantage....."
"Some?" the vampire hunter's lips turned up at the corners as he paced toward the friar one step and watched him backpedal hastily to keep the small distance between them.
"Well, alright...quite a lot then. But it wasn't all that bad, surely. I mean, I just wondered...haven't you ever wondered....just a little?"
The taller man's lips pursed slightly as he seemed to consider the question. He took another step forward, allowing the other to take another back. "Wondered...what, Carl? What it would be like
to kiss another man? Or what it would be like to kiss you?"
"Eeep!" was his only answer as Carl abruptly fetched up against the wall of the small cell.
Van Helsing took the final step that placed him within 2 inches of the friar. He could feel the smaller man's body heat rolling off of him, could feel the palpable wash of tension and embarrassment of the friar and found it touching.
"Carl...what am I going to do with you?" he sighed, his hands rising to come to rest heavily on the thin shoulders of his friend, giving them a little shake. "Is there anything that mind of yours doesn't wonder?"
Carl's mouth opened and closed several times as his eyebrows took erratic flight. Obviously, he was giving the question some quality thought, and normally Van Helsing would have loved to indulge
him with all the time necessary to come to a conclusion. But the first glimmer of dawn was starting to light the room and the time they had left was drawing to a close.
Still.... With a smile curving his lips, the hunter leaned down to place his mouth against Carl's, just touching.
"I think your little experiment will be more satisfying when we have more time. But maybe this will do until then," he breathed against the trembling lips, smiling.
Gently, his mouth took Carl's, pressing down, drawing the friar's lower lip into his own mouth to suck at it wetly. His body pressed up against the smaller man's pinning it to the wall, causing Carl to raise his face and rise up on tip toe. Judging by the noises Carl made and the fact that it seemed Van Helsing's hands were the only thing holding him upright, the little friar was enjoying the kiss much more than he'd ever expected to. The friar's hands fluttered against the skin of Van Helsing's waist briefly before coming down to clutch at him, fingers splayed over his hips. He pressed his hips against Carl's, pushing them slightly up the wall, then rubbing against them just enough to elicit a strangled gasp of pleasure from the other man as his thighs obligingly parted. Van Helsing easily
supported Carl's weight and judging by the hardening taking place between them, Carl was enjoying the feelings he was experiencing a great deal. Reluctantly, Van Helsing slowly released the moist
lip; licking it with satisfaction, he nuzzled strongly against Carl's nose and mouth with a sigh.
"Nice....very nice. I hope that lived up to expectations? At least for a start."
With reluctance, the vampire hunter stepped back, then had to hastily catch the friar as he started to slide down the wall.
"Carl? Are you alright? Carl..wake up!"
Van Helsing pulled the friar toward the bed and eased him into a sitting position on it, shaking him gently. The smaller man's head bobbed like a rag doll's as he slowly regained his senses. Watching him, the vampire hunter lips parted in a large grin as he shook his head.
"I don't know whether to be flattered or appalled, Carl. Are you alright?"
"Yes...yes, I'm fine....oh definitely, definitely yes to that. Sorry..just, everything that's happened tonight...no sleep for days...that, er, sort of thing." The friar sighed as he gently traced his own lips with shaking fingers, his face alight with wonder. "It is different, you know?"
"Mm-Hmm. I can see that--at least I hope you don't do this when you're with your tavern doxies. If you do, maybe I should start carrying the travel money."
The friar rallied to raise his eyes to the hunter's, exasperation sharpening his voice and features.
"No, I'm not like this with them! Or, at least not since I was 16. Have some compassion, Van Helsing, and spare me your crude jokes."
"Sorry," the dark man's smile grew wider, but his voice was conciliatory. "Can you sit up now? I really need to get dressed."
"Yes, yes.. .of course you do. Go ahead, I'm fine. I'll just stay here, if you don't mind."
Van Helsing snorted, shaking his head he ruffled the friar's hair before turning to the small table to retrieve his clothing. A scant handful of moments passed before he was fully dressed and pulling on
his high boots, lacing them with jerking motions.
He dressed completely, even pulling on his coat and donning his hat. Then he retrieved his sword, swinging it up and over his shoulder and into it's sheathe on his back. When ready, he turned to the
bed, and gestured Carl to join him as he strode to the door. The friar jumped to the ground and trotted to his side, as Van Helsing threw the heavy door open. They left the room without a backward glance.
"Where...where are we go..going?" Carl breathlessly stammered, trying to keep up with Van Helsing's long strides.
The Vampire hunter's reply consisted of a single word.